Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Union Rat Visits Lightstone Group's Development Site In Gowanus This Morning

Bright and early this morning, members of local Union 79, which represents Construction and General Buildings laborers inflated the iconic rat in front of the Lightstone Group's  700-unit mega residential development at 363-365 Bond Street, adjacent to the Gowanus Canal.

The union representatives were handing out fliers stating that Lightstone Group and its chairman David Lichtenstein is allowing contractor Lettire Construction Corporation to exploit its non-union construction workers. The union is urging people to show support for a safe environment, a living wage and for dignity and respect for the workers .
The flier includes a phone number for  David Lichtenstein.

I spoke to the union supervisor in charge of this mornings' protest.  "You know, Lightstone received a lot of subsidies to build this project.  What happened to the money?"

It is important to remember that Community Board 6 made its own "Responsible Contractor
Conditions (which calls for union labor whenever possible) a condition on voting yes to the original rezoning of the Bond Street site from manufacturing to mixed-use.
Community Board 6 repeated that condition when Lightstone Group needed a 'minor modification' to change the number of housing units from 400 to 700 units.
Obviously, Lightstone decided it did not need to follow those recommendations, and Community Board 6 is always too quick to point out that its role is only advisory.

As for the safety of the workers currently employed by Lettire Construction Corporation, I have personally spoken to quite a few who seemed concerned about working on a Brownfield site that just happens to be right next to an EPA Superfund site.

I would like to thank my friend L. for letting me know that the rat had made an appearance at the site.

Reader and friend C. just forwarded me an open Environmental Control Board violation issued to Lettire Construction Corporation on February 5th for a lack of  "overhead protection for workers for walkway and sidewalk."  
A partial stop-work order was issued.  It was rescinded on February 13th.


Anonymous said...

Better late than never I suppose. I know that surrounding neighbor's expressed concerns about worker safety (lack of protective gear during asbestos removal for example) to various agencies and electeds but these complaints were ignored. Lightstone was quite clear during their community presentations that they would not commit to union labor and they would go with the most effective contractor.

With the Gowanus rezoning there will be many more large scale projects and I hope the unions will get involved with Brad Lander's Bridging Gowanus process. Community Board Six can only suggest the use of union labor as it is something that can not be mandated.

Anonymous said...

And if the employees were union they wouldn't be worried about working on a Brownfield site or next to an EPA Superfund site?

Katia said...

Perhaps they would have health insurance and /or disability in case there was a problem?

Anonymous said...

The debate of union vs non union aside, medical costs due to an illness or injury related to or arising from the course of employment in nys are covered by workers compensation insurance and are exclusions under group health plans. No business may operate in the state without such coverage.
Worker's Compensation insurance provides monetary benefits in the event of disability as well.

Katia said...

That's good to know. Thanks for the information.